The World Design Capital initiative to be hosted in Cape Town in 2014 provides a good opportunity to deepen and promote the community’s vision of the vlei. The theme of the WDC is ‘live design, transform lives’ – it intends to use the design of neglected areas to transform the lives of local communities. The Princess Vlei offers a perfect space for to uplifting and transforming our communities through a creative design project.
The Princess Vlei Forum has been actively engaging communities for months in using the space creatively, and in talking about how it can be enhanced. We now propose to deepen and extend this process by putting forward a proposal for a community-driven design project around Princess Vlei for the World Design Capital in 2014. Saturday’s event marked the beginning of a process of more formal and extensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
Addressing the crowd on Saturday, Kelvin Cochrane of the PVF said that Grassy Park represents the Wetlands capital of Cape Town, and this identity should be enhanced and celebrated by restoring Princess Vlei and using the space creatively and sensitively. He presented some of the ideas developed in the people’s plan, and encouraged people to build on and extend these ideas.
Henrik Ernstrom of the African Centre for Cities (UCT) said that we need to think about the fact that the Vlei is a public space that we use together and share with each other. ‘We need to think about activities that attract different people who live around here and further afield, think about what will draw people here for the full day. Bringing people to the Vlei will make it safer.’
Ernstrom showed photographs of community led urban improvement projects around the world.
Russel Dudley from Imagine Manenberg described how this project had helped to transform Manenberg on many different levels. ‘Every little thing can make a difference; use local talent, look atwhat people have already; don’t think about the problem, think about what you are already doing, and how is that part of the solution;’
He described how the interview process is so valuable in building a sense of community.
Participants drew a map of the vlei in the sand, and staked out some of their ideas for what they would like to see around the vlei. These include:
- Wooden walkways and cycle tracks
- Small café/ restaurant
- Developing a centre for community and NGO use
- Indigenous trees for shade
- Monument to commemorate our First Nations and Khoisan heritage
- Rehabilitated Sandplain fynbos
- Skate board park
- Craft Market
- Creative writing and arts centre
- Centre for workshops about nature and plants
- Riding stables and mounted police patrols for safety
- Children’s adventure playgrounds
- Picnic and braai areas
Eddie Lewis, a longstanding local resident, said, ‘I have lived in near Princess Vlei for my whole life. When I was a child, we used to come and watch the Baptisms. The white people would bring their cattle here and sell milk – that was before apartheid, so we all lived in the same place. I used to cut firewood to sell to put food on the table. This is a good space to bring people together. I would like to see it as a beautiful park where families can gather to picnic and be together. I don’t want to see a mall here – we have so many already. A mall will not benefit us.’
We look forward to working with the community and design professionals to create a fantastic plan for this wonderful space.